A couple of weekends ago, I went for a weekend away in Wooler with my dance society. The dancing weekends are always good fun, but I was a bit worried about going back to the village where I was previously nearly knocked unconscious by a flying welly… so on balance I decided that if I came back without a Dunlop logo shaped scar on my head and a concussion, I’d consider the trip a success.
I actually quite enjoyed the coach journey down to Wooler. It made a nice change not to be driving and to have time and space to do some reading (a short story of my mum’s), some meditation, and some DS playing (finally got further in Mario 64 after being stuck for a while). It was also much quicker than I’d expected and we were there in less than two hours. Before the first dancing started there was time to find bedrooms and eat enormous fish suppers to build up our strength for the activity ahead. On the first night this consisted of a ceilidh (with live band!) followed by the traditional Chair Game (everyone sits in chairs in a circle. Someone in the middle shouts out a statement and if it applies to you, you move around the circle by some number of chairs. If there’s already someone sitting in that chair, you sit on top of them. If there’s already someone sitting on top of someone else there, you sit on top of them. If there’s already someone sitting on top of someone sitting on top of… well, you get the idea. Normally, the first person to make it back to their original chair wins… though on this occasion the game was drastically rigged in favour of new members, with statements like “If you’ve been a member of this club for more than a year, go back five places”. Rigged, I tell you).
I didn’t expect to sleep brilliantly the first night, and indeed I didn’t. I never do in hostels, even though this was a nice one that even had two pillows per bed and my roommates were pretty quiet. On the other hand I didn’t expect to be awakened by the Star Wars theme music blasting down the corridors at 8am (but I was!). It was certainly a more epic way to be wakened up than by a plastic Wallace saying “Morning Gromit, time for walkies!” in my ear, as I was accustomed too for many years.
A few cups of coffee later, and I was fine, or at least fine enough to do dance workshops and help in the kitchen, which was the important thing. Workshops included a fiendish Scottish Country dance called Platypus Reel which was probably deliberately designed to confuse people, a refresher course in Contra (a sort of fast moving American ceilidh equivalent, one of my favourites), and learning Mazurka (a Polish folk dance). Food consisted of some delicious dishes from the Kilted Libyan Chef, along with cupcakes decorated during a “Dessert Workshop” for people who wanted a break from dancing.
I also found the time to wander around the village and the hostel. I didn’t find the village green type place where the welly incident occurred, but that was probably for the best. The hostel had several nice murals painted on the walls:
(The ones in the toilets are not pictured. I decided it might be best not to hang around there holding a large camera).
On Saturday night after dinner was the highlight of the weekend – the main dance. This time, the theme was “Masquerade Ball”. I hadn’t had time during the week to make or buy a mask specially, so I had to make do with what I had in the flat. It came down to a choice between some flimsy little cardboard things… or this:
It was variously described as looking like a Mexican Ninja, a pirate, and several other things that I won’t mention to protect my more innocent readers. But it did the job, and won me a well-deserved “Most Disturbing Mask” prize at the end of the night. If it hadn’t been for Stefan’s homemade welding mask, I probably would have won “Most Unrecognisable Person” as well. (I originally bought the mask to use in a very silly parody of Breaking the Magician’s Code, in case you were wondering why I would own such a thing).
The evening was fun and involved plenty of Country dancing, Contra dancing, a bit of other dancing and finally the “other” chair game, during which I kept getting stuck in the middle. Maybe the mask was obstructing my peripheral vision so that I couldn’t see the vacant chairs in time. Or maybe I’m just rubbish at these things anyway.
Again I didn’t sleep very much (Ride of the Valkyries and James Bond served as the second morning’s wake-up call). Luckily there wasn’t very much to do today except clean up the hostel and then go for a walk up a nearby hill. It was actually more tiring than I expected, and so cold at the top that most of the group had to dance Mairi’s Wedding just to keep warm.
Thanks to the bus coming at 3pm instead of 2pm, we had some time after the walk to sit around the hostel and play the most unsuccessful game of Chinese Whispers I’ve ever played.
Anyway… thanks to a busy and tiring couple of weeks, this blog entry is a tad later than I’d planned, but I knew I had to get it done today… because tomorrow I’m off on another dance weekend away! This time to IVFDF 2012 in Aberdeen. This will be my 3rd IVFDF and if it lives up to the other two it should be a great trip. Blog entry probably to follow…